It's easy to assume that, in data centers and beyond, automation has no bounds. In a world where AI seems to offer a limitless range of opportunities for improving data center operations and networking, and where the IT industry as a whole has embraced the notion that workflows can become so fully automated that we reach the state of NoOps, there may appear to be nothing inside data centers that you we can't automate.
The reality, though, is more sobering. While modern technology offers great potential for data center automation in many areas, key facets of data center operations are likely to be impossible to automate for the foreseeable future.
In fact, the physical nature of data centers means that in some respects, data center facilities and equipment are even more challenging to automate than other types of IT infrastructures or environments, such as public cloud platforms, where everything that users interact with is defined in software and, therefore, easy to automate using software-based solutions.
To prove the point, here's a look at five aspects of data centers or data center operations that no one should expect to fully automate anytime soon.
1. Server Deployment
In the public cloud, deploying servers automatically is as simple as applying some Infrastructure-as-Code templates for provisioning cloud resources.
In a data center, however, that type of automation is not possible because the servers you deploy are physical hardware. Someone must install the servers, connect them to power and networking cables, ensure they are properly cooled, and so on.
Theoretically, robots can automate much of the work of server deployment inside data centers. However, to do this work cost-effectively using robots, you'd need to operate on a massive scale. You'd also need server deployments that are sufficiently consistent and predictable to automate without the assistance of humans. Today, most server deployments just don't meet this criterion.
2. Hardware Maintenance
Along similar lines, maintaining server hardware following deployment inside a data center is not a task that is feasible to automate in most cases. Swapping out failed disks, replacing worn cables and power supplies, and updating network cards are routine procedures in most data centers, and the only way to handle them is to deploy human technicians.
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